It was near midnight as our five-man crew sat in a friend’s new sport-fisherman on a placid sea some 100 miles southeast of New York City. We’d taken a two-day sojourn looking for yellowfin tuna. Our wasabi was hotter than any hipster-favored sriracha, and our hopes were high to catch the tasty Thunnus albacares. A brightly lit, planetariumlike backdrop was straight out of van Gogh’s The Starry Night. The setup was perfect, and it felt like something special was about to happen. Sometimes, though, feelings can be, well, misleading.
Suddenly, the boat went dark. Almost everything shut off. That incredible night sky got a lot brighter (van Gogh would’ve loved it), but there was no time to enjoy the stars. My brother Chip, an electronics guru, broke out the manuals and schematics and started tracing wires and troubleshooting. If we couldn’t fix the problem, we’d be heading home sooner rather than later.
My brother’s head was buried behind an electrical panel, with his mini Maglite planted firmly between his chin and shoulder, when one of the rods went zing. Fish on! Decisions, decisions. Fix the boat or catch the fish?
Chip popped his head up like a meerkat peering out of his hole, and then went back to work while the rest of our crew tried to catch the tuna. Then a second rod went off, and then a third. We soon had three 75-pound-class yellowfin flopping in the pitch-black cockpit.
My brother eventually found a bad fuse, and we swapped it for a spare. The spreader lights came on. Belowdecks looked like it had its own sun. All was good in the world again, except for one thing: The tuna bite had turned off like the lights when the fuse blew.
We looked at one another and decided this change in our luck was no coincidence. This time, we purposefully put the boat in stealth mode except for essential lights. In five minutes, we had the fish back and biting with a vengeance. We’d turn on the spreaders for the gaff shot and then go back to sniper mode.
This went on until dawn, when a picturesque sunrise shut the epic tuna bite down. The one light we couldn’t turn off.